World-class sportswriter Blackie Sherrod described columnist George Dolan thusly: “Before God made George, He broke the mold.” In those few words, Sherrod pegged the late columnist whose 30 years of daily columns in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram are legendary.
Maybe the broken mold was used again later when another inimitable communicator was born. His name is Bob Lewis, but he’s known by that moniker mostly by kinfolks, closest friends and Rotary buddies.
The rest of us know him as Tumbleweed Smith. He’s now in his sixth decade regaling us with rich stories on his daily radio show, The Sound of Texas, and in his weekly newspaper column. His work is featured by dozens of Texas radio stations and newspapers; it invariably makes us smile. On top of that, he — as was Dolan — is a favorite lectern personality throughout the Lone Star State.
Likenesses common to both Dolan and Smith are many. Suffice it to say both learned much from life’s school called “hard knocks,” but Tumbleweed has impressive academic credentials as well. He holds degrees from Baylor University (BA, English) and the University of Missouri (MA, Journalism), with additional work at Drake University Law School and language study in two foreign countries.
“Every man” fits ’em both. They both put overalls ahead of tuxedos.
Lewis, as was Dolan, is a great listener, letting interviewees “tell their stories.”
I’ve known Tumbleweed casually — but extremely favorably — for more than four decades. (Once we were scheduled to address the same event on the same night in the same town, but that’s another story.)
It was fun to interview him recently. When I thought we’d finished, he whipped out his recorder and I became the interviewee. Roles were seamlessly reversed!
We joked about the 750 or so words I’d write, and what he’d choose from a half-hour of my rambling to “fit” his 2.5-minute broadcast. (It was Lincoln, wasn’t it, who apologized for writing such a long letter because he didn’t have time to write a short one?) Indeed he “boils it down,” spending about an hour in production for each minute of air time.